Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kitten-y Soft

I know I've shown you a few snaps of this kitty already, but I figured I'd put up the finished product for the record. This is, of course, the put-together book Kitty from Hilary Lang at Wee Wonderfuls. This kitty is the first softie that I've every made using the sewing machine (or any technique other than knitting, to be honest) and I'm very happy with her. Originally I was going to make a few of these and give them out to friends, but I don't think I'm going to have time (Aaron doesn't like the sound of the sewing machine and I can't sew when I'm with Ruby during the day), especially since I'm in the middle of the very ambitious and more difficult Make-Along dolls (also a wee wonderful product).

So, this little Kitty will be gifted to my Miss Ruby. I'm not sure if I'm going to put it under the tree or save it for her February 1 birthday. I think I may do a Makee-Along set for her as well -- definitely for the birthday though, as I don't want to take on too much. Christmas is already starting to drown me and it's not even December 1.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Self-Portrait Challenge: Glam Week #4

It seems that since I became a contributor on the SPC site, I've been participating less often. Not good. So, here is my portrait for the final week of Glam month. For some reason, this month I was invited to attend not one, but two all-ladies dress-up parties. The first was a house party which I knew would be attended by a number of rockabilly ladies and vintage collectors, so I squeezed into one of the '50s party dresses that I so favoured when I was young (the only one that still fits) and put on my pearls. This Saturday I was forced to abandon the dress I had chosen for ladies lounge night (too freakin' cold!) so I dug through Ruby's dress-up clothes (which she doesn't use yet, but they're in safe-keeping) to find this silver top. I don't remember where or why I bought this thing, but I do know that it cost less than $5. I threw it back on this morning for my glam photo -- eat your heart out Marc Bolan.

Speaking of glam, I do have a story to pull out of the archives that matches this month's SPC theme. While I've always like the stylin' of T-Rex and early-era Bowie, I've had a life-long fear of KISS. When I was a kid they used to advertise mail-order posters on the back of Archie and Richie Rich comics and there were always a few KISS shots pictured. I was terrified of them. I'd have to leave the comics outside of my bedroom door while I slept. When I first moved to Toronto and got my job at the magazine I had an opportunity to tag along on a Gene Simmons interview and I decided to go for it. You know how the best way to get over a fear of flying is to jump on a plane? It was kind of like that. To make a long story short, Gene (who was not, by the way, in make-up) turned out to be creepier and more horrifying in real life than he was on the back of the comic books. While I don't have nightmares about KISS any more, I still shudder to think about six foot six Gene Simmons coming up to me and running his grubby fingers through my hair. Ick.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Warm It Up

It's freakin' cold here. I don't know what the weather is like in the rest of the world, but we're hovering around minus 30 Celcius here and it's beyond cold. It's so cold that it's become funny. I was remarking to Aaron the other day that people tend to put up their Christmas lights and trees super early here -- I honestly believe it's a reaction to the cold. It's like the thought of Christmas warms people's hearts enough that they can deal with the bitter cold. Oh Canada, you are a cruel mistress.

Anyway, sometime last week I finished these women's wrist warmers, as seen in Last Minute Knitted gifts. Unlike the last pair of these I made (yes, I'm wearing the same thing in the picture for that post and standing in the same spot. Yes, I'm lame), I actually used the recommended yarn, Noro Cash Iroha. It's soft as butter, I tell you. I'm not totally in love with the colourway, but seeing as I whipped these up with a leftover ball from another project, I am in love with the economy of these psuedo-mitts. Will I keep them, or will they end up as an Xmas gift? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Zut Alors!

Oooh boy. Young knitters, take this tale as a lesson as to why you should always check for gauge. So, I decided that I'd knit my Grandma a tam for Xmas. Berets seem to be a hat often favoured by older women and I figured if I purchased a fleece scarf in a similar colour it would make for a great gift. So, I printed off the handy beret tutorial from Petulant Feminine (thanks P! It's an excellent pattern and I highly recommend it -- any problems were created soley by myself) and grabbed some barely labeled yarn that I got for Christmas last year. It's beautiful hand-dyed wool that Aaron's sister picked up from an independent merchant and I had no idea what weight it was classified at or anything. So I started knitting. And knitting and knitting and knitting.

As you can see, the thing is freakin' huge and looks more like a big poofy chef's hat than a chic beret. Unless my Grandma suddenly sprouts a head full of dreadlocks or develops an affinity for the music of the islands it just isn't going to work for her. But somehow, I like it. It's super warm (though kinda itchy) and I like that it totally covers my hair. It did slip over my eyes at one point while I was driving today and I should probably rip back the ribbing and reknit it on a smaller needle, but since I hate the feeling of tight winter hats, I think I'm going to keep it as is. I have a month to reattempt or I can always buy a felt tam at The Bay.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Automatic For The People

So, here it is. The Jess Hutch robot, knit for the little dude next door. Before I get to the grit, here are the specs (as if you didn't know):

Robot from Jessica Hutchison's Unusual Toys For You To Knit And Enjoy
Yarn: Cascade 220 in light blue, green and orange
Needle: U.S. #8 wooden straights
Mods: I stuck to a more solid colour scheme
Comments: Hmmm. I gotta say, this is the first Jess Hutch toy that I haven't been happy with. Sure, he's cute enough, but he doesn't have the same panache as say, Kate or Spherey. I blame it on the flat knitting and my own lousy finishing skills -- whereas the other toys (save for the ultra-simple Squarey) are marvels of construction with their round shaping, Mr. Robot is a slightly messy affair. I found that he was a bit of a pain to finish and I don't love the way the arms came out (that's a loose end at the top of the right arm -- I didn't have time to weave it in before I snapped the photo). I'm also not crazy about the way my less than tight intarsia looks with Mr. Robo stuffed fat. I think it'll be fine to give to the little boy next door, but I wouldn't hold it up as my finest work. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

Friday, November 17, 2006


So, has everyone seen Hannah's new blog The Recipe Box? Her idea is awesome -- to create a place to share family recipes with the rest of her blogging community. The first recipe posted was for Orange-Chocolate Chip muffins and being a fan of the dark chocolate/orange combo and an obsessive muffin maker, I had to heed the call. I think I would make them a little more orange-y next time out (maybe a whole orange's worth of juice rather than half), but they're really great and really easy. And they're fattened up with olive oil rather than butter. Olive oil! In a muffin!

This also, weirdly enough, marks the first time I've baked with self-rising flour. I can't get over how cool this bag of flour looks. I love it!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday Love

I love making gifts. But even more so, I love buying gifts that others have made -- all the specialness, but a fraction of the effort (and often, not even a much higher price). I really love the local Christmas craft fairs. And while I do have a penchant for the hipster craft fairs like D.U.D.E. in Toronto and other such places that attract the blogger types, I also have a soft spot for the old fashioned community hall fairs with older folks selling their goods. I stopped by a fair yesterday that had a few hipster types (there was a table manned by a few cute indie-rock glass blowers) but I ended up forking my money over to the seniors.

In addition to a few other things, I bought Ruby this little wooded truck with tiles teaching her the ABCs and 123s. An older gentleman made it and was selling a variety of little trucks for a mere $18 each. His wife told me that their greatest challenge was coming up with new designs since the trucks were so sturdy and handed down from child to child, their customer base couldn't just buy the same thing over and over. I also hit the Ukrainian food stand and bought a bunch of frozen cabbage rolls which we ate last night. Our whole house now smells like cabbage. Um... yum!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Happy Blogiversary!

Hey! I've been doing this for a year! Well, a year as of yesterday actually. Anyway, last November, at the urging of my insanely talented friend Sam I opened the doors to Elizaboothy. I missed the feeling of writing (almost) every day (which I gave up once I stopped working to raise my daughter) and I also needed a kick in the butt to keep my craftiness going (ditto). And guess what? It worked! In the last year I've kept the knitting up, learned how to make socks and, most shockingly, finally learned how to use my sewing machine. The blog community has kept me so inspired -- I'm chomping at the bit to learn how to crochet, quilt and do just about 100 other things, so I can promise you that Elizaboothy will be going strong for the next while to come.

Speaking of sewing, I didn't get nearly as much as I had hoped done over the weekend because I was too busy cleaning up baby vomit and in more recent days, my own vomit. Damn you stomach flu! Ruby seems to have recovered but although I'm feeling much better I still can't keep much more than saltines down. Still, I managed to make some progress on my put-together Kitty (see above pic), I blocked Mr. Robot, started a pair of wristwarmers (which I made good headway on whilst waiting to get some bloodwork done this morning) and I bought fabric for my Make-Along set. It's that time of year and I love it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

W.I.P. Friday

Note: If you are a close friend or a member of my family and think that I may be making you a gift, I'd strongly suggest that you quit reading the blog until after the holidays. Don't say I didn't warn you. Leena, you're okay to keep reading.

Okay, I had to get that picture of my pouty lips bumped from the top post. Ugh. I haven't had many F.O. to show this week, but I have been working hard. My holiday frenzy continues and what you see above is the fruit of this week's labour. I've got a Jess Hutch robot (in Cascade 220) on the go for the baby next door, a Wee Wonderful Put-Together Kitty (not sure who this will go to, but it's partially to practice for my masterplan Make-A-Long set for Aaron's sister) and a secret Cash Iroha project, which I'll most likely blog about on some of my KAL sites. I expect all of these things to be done soon, so more deets to come.

And, the stupidly early cookie bake-off continues as well. We're having our holiday party early this year, so I have less than a month to finish all the treats. This morning Ruby and I whipped up some ginger snaps. Delish!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Self Portrait Challenge: Glam Week #1

I love make-up. I have a lot of make-up. Lately though, I don't wear very much make-up. When I used to work full time at the magazine, although our focus was on music we had a very tiny style section that warranted the editor in charge of it the right to solicit beauty companies for free product. It was great -- for four years I didn't have to buy shampoo, sunscreen, lotion, bubble bath or cosmetics. And we got good stuff too -- clinique, benefit, origins, cake, cargo, mac... it was like my own personal sephora,

While the make-up train made it's last stop ages ago, I still have a lot of the stuff left in my linen closet. I know that you're not supposed to keep make-up around for years and years, but I don't seem to go through it very quickly, even when I go through periods of wearing a lot of it. To glam it up, this morning I put on two of my fave lip products from my pantry -- Clinique's colour surge lipstick in golden mink and Benefit's It Was Just A Matter Of Time Lip Cream. Yum. I would never wear either of these colours out -- way too dark. But to glam it up, they suit me just fine.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Off And Running

Is it lame for me to have already started my holiday baking? As previously mentioned, Aaron thinks I'm nuts and annually begs me not to "overdo it" when it comes to my holiday prep. Since I'm not working outside the home (though the freelance stuff is starting to pile up) and Ruby's not a screaming infant this year, I'm already full on for Xmas. And it's frickin' November. And I don't even celebrate it from a religious standpoint. Am I turning into the crazy stay-at-home mom with no life?

I'll admit, when Ruby and I popped into Winners last week (to try on fancy high-heel shoes), I briefly contemplated buying one of those Christmas sweaters with bobbly snowmen and sparkly gift packages, but I stopped myself (and purchased something from the "junior trendsetters" section to overcompensate for my momentary lapse in judgment). And I've already baked about five dozen cookies that went promptly into the freezer -- the almond stars you see above and a huge batch of double-chocolate peppermint chip. But this isn't because I'm chomping at the bit for Xmas -- it's because I know myself. I know that I'm going to get busy and burn out sooner rather than later. And I want to get all this stuff done because I want Ruby to grown up loving the holidays as much as I do. Is that so crazy?

I knitting news, I signed up for Norovember since I'm currently working on a top-secret project in Cash Iroha, which I can't really blog about here. Button to appear as soon as I can take a moment without Ruby tearing up my office.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Hip To Be Square

I didn't sign up for the national blog month post every day thing, but I may as well have. So much to post about! Tis the holiday season, I suppose -- I'm trying to crank out the small items and as of an hour ago, I've begun my holiday baking. It's so weird, I used to be very lazy about this stuff (i.e. did nothing), but I've been overcome by some weird desire to be super-mom. A friend once commented that as soon as Aaron and I had Ruby we somehow became The Flintstones, and despite my years as a Women's Studies' minor, it's true. Oh well, sisters, we've won our right to choose and I choose to bake cookies.

But I digress. I present to you my first holiday FO. This was one of my longest current WIPs -- I think I started it when we were still in Toronto. But, since I decided to give it to Ruby as part of her Xmas gift, it counts as a holiday knit. Ha.

Squarey from Jessica Hutchison's Unusual toys For You To Knit And Enjoy
Yarn Lamb's Pride Worsted in Orange You Glad, Lotus Pink and Limeaide
Needle U.S. 8 wooden straights (and DPNs for the limbs)
Mods put sleeves and pants on him
Comments: I love it. I didn't test for gauge, so I was amazed that the pillow fit perfectly -- I really thought I was going to have to polyfil this guy. But he's soft, cuddly and given Roo's love for softies these days, he'll be well loved. Given her affection for a stuffed Pilsbury Doughboy that she was given, I'll be glad to put a non-commercial buddy into her arms. As it is, I can't get her out of the grocery store without poking the boy on the frozen cookie dough display and watching Ruby giggling maniacally.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My Swiss Miss

Yesterday my friend Mark and I took Ruby to Walmart to get her Xmas portrait done. Usually I avoid Walmart like the plague (a gross, unhealthy, over-Americanized plague), but Mark and I have made it a tradition to take Roo to the Wally for the portrait. My main reasoning for this is because it's so flippin' cheap -- a package of 42 prints is only $19.95, and this includes the sitting (this is by no means meant to be an advertisement for Walmart). Of course, they don't give you a choice in which shot qualifies for the special and they take a bunch more which they later try to sell you for 10 times the price. But I do like the general cheesiness of the whole process and Mark enjoys his role as art director/Ruby wrangler.

What you see above is the dress that we chose as Ruby's costume. It came with a box of family heirloom hand-me-downs that Aaron's aunt Bobbie (the mother of the next youngest kid in our clan, Aaron's five-year-old cousin Maren) gave me after Ruby was born. I have no idea how old it is -- I've seen pictures of Aaron's 31-year-old sister wearing it when she was about Ruby's age, but it might date back farther to Aaron's aunt, who's about 50. Either way, it was made in Italy and it's absolutely beautiful.

As I very secretly predicted, the actual photo session was a bit of a bust. Ruby was fine and was sitting in front of the Swiss village background that Mark selected as the photographer set up her equipment. Right before she was ready to start snapping, Roo had a big freak out and refused to sit. We did everything we could to please her, including a walk through the hardware section of the Walmart. She continued her refusals. Finally, we bought a package of shortbread cookies and bribed her. She sat there, on the photo platform, happily chomping away, but would cry whenever she was without cookie in hand. So all of the photos feature Ruby holding a cookie and wearing a wide crumb-covered grin. I think they're pretty cute and will provide an suitably embarrassing story once she's older. Ha.